The Widows of Malabar Hill (Perveen Mistry Series #1)

The Widows of Malabar Hill (Perveen Mistry Series #1)

by Sujata Massey


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1920s India: Perveen Mistry, Bombay's only female lawyer, is investigating a suspicious will on behalf of three Muslim widows living in full purdah when the case takes a turn toward the murderous. The author of the Agatha and Macavity Award–winning Rei Shimura novels brings us an atmospheric new historical mystery with a captivating heroine.

This Deluxe Paperback Edition features: an interview with the author, discussion questions, essays on the real-life inspirations behind the novel, delicious recipes taken from the story, and previews of The Satapur Moonstone (May 2019).

Perveen Mistry, the daughter of a respected Zoroastrian family, has just joined her father's law firm, becoming one of the first female lawyers in India. Armed with a legal education from Oxford, Perveen also has a tragic personal history that makes women's legal rights especially important to her.

Mistry Law has been appointed to execute the will of Mr. Omar Farid, a wealthy Muslim mill owner who has left three widows behind. But as Perveen examines the paperwork, she notices something strange: all three of the wives have signed over their full inheritance to a charity. What will they live on? Perveen is suspicious, especially since one of the widows has signed her form with an X—meaning she probably couldn't even read the document. The Farid widows live in full purdah—in strict seclusion, never leaving the women's quarters or speaking to any men. Are they being taken advantage of by an unscrupulous guardian? Perveen tries to investigate, and realizes her instincts were correct when tensions escalate to murder. Now it is her responsibility to figure out what really happened on Malabar Hill, and to ensure that no innocent women or children are in further danger.

Inspired in part by the woman who made history as India's first female attorney, The Widows of Malabar Hill is a richly wrought story of multicultural 1920s Bombay as well as the debut of a sharp new sleuth.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781616959760
Publisher: Soho Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 11/20/2018
Series: Perveen Mistry Series , #1
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 35,792
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Sujata Massey was born in England to parents from India and Germany, grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, and lives in Baltimore, Maryland. She was a features reporter for the Baltimore Evening Sun before becoming a full-time novelist. The first Perveen Mistry novel, The Widows of Malabar Hill, was an international bestseller and won the Agatha, Macavity, and Mary Higgins Clark Awards. She is also the author of The Satapur Moonstone, the second Perveen Mistry novel. Visit her website at

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Excerpted from "The Widows of Malabar Hill"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Sujata Massey.
Excerpted by permission of Soho Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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The Widows of Malabar Hill 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A sympathetic intelligent heroine and believable situations, set in a fascinating and unfamiliar culture. It held my interest to the last page. I hope this is the first of a series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was thoroughly enjoyable. I loved Perveen Mistry as the first female solicitor in Bombay and her adventures both personal and professional. The author thoroughly researched Bombay cultures, including Parsi and Muslim, especially related to restrictions on women. It made for a fascinating book. I hope there will be a second about Perveen.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have enjoyed learning more about India in general, Bombay specifically. What an awesome mix of religions and cultures
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So very glad to have discovered this book and author! Expertly written, the story flows comfortably between the heroine's two important periods in her life and career. I was enthralled with the history, food, customs, past tragedies, and future hopefullness of India. Looking forward to reading more from this author.
Delphimo 4 months ago
Picture Bombay in the 1920’s when women had many restrictions and especially attempting to work as a lawyer. Perveen Mistry begins the classwork of learning law, but the male students and the instructors thwart her ambitions and change the course of her life. Marriage and disappointment again force Perveen to alter her dreams. The Widows of Malabar Hill bounces back and forth between 1917 and 1920 with the reader given the history of Perveen and her family in Bombay, India. Sujata Massey presents a well written story of the social mores of India. Perveen must help and assist three widows of a recently deceased businessman and discover the culprit of a murder. The biggest problem of the story is the usage of Indian terms that are explained in a glossary that hides in the back of the book and
LesBahadur More than 1 year ago
A time, an era, a multi-cultural society, a mystery -- all woven into a most delightful read.
dibbylodd More than 1 year ago
A clear voice and vision of the time and place. Many bothersome events regarding women and their rights. but it's totally within the historic time-frame. The main character's backstory unfolds gradually in flashbacks. For such an intelligent person, she allowed her "heart" to override her brain to her detriment. Her father's action in court on her behalf is utterly brilliant! Not a light read, for sure! But quite fascinating.
dibbylodd More than 1 year ago
A clear voice and vision of the time and place. Many bothersome events regarding women and their rights. but it's totally within the historic time-frame. The main character's backstory unfolds gradually in flashbacks. For such an intelligent person, she allowed her "heart" to override her brain to her detriment. Her father's action in court on her behalf is utterly brilliant! Not a light read, for sure! But quite fascinating.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
KOMET More than 1 year ago
A few days ago, I had the satisfaction of reading "THE WIDOWS OF MALABAR HILL." It's centered around India's first woman lawyer, Perveen Mistry, who had received her legal training at Oxford. The time is February 1921 and she has returned to her home in Bombay, where she has a job working in her father's law firm. Perveen has been given the responsibility of executing the will of Omar Farid, a wealthy Muslim who owned a fabric mill and had 3 wives. In the immediate aftermath of Farid's death, the 3 widows are living in strict purdah (a type of seclusion in which the widows never leave the women's quarters nor see and speak with any man outside of the residence) at the Farid residence on Malabar Hill. Whilst carefully reading the documents, Perveen notices that the widows have signed off their inheritance to a charity. What strikes Perveen as odd is that one of the widows' signature is a 'X', which is a clear indication that the widow who affixed the 'X' probably was unable to read the document. This leads Perveen to wonder how the 3 widows will be able to live and take care of themselves. She begins to suspect that maybe they may be taken advantage of by the legal guardian entrusted by Mr. Farid to handle their financial affairs. Perveen has the welfare and best interests of her clients, the 3 widows, in mind. Perveen goes on to carry out an investigation. She makes an arrangement with the widows' legal guardian, Feisal Mukri, to come to the residence to visit the widows and to speak with each of them separately. In the process of doing so, tensions are stirred in the Farid residence and a murder takes place there that makes a straightforward matter of executing a family will into something much more perilous and uncertain. There is also something out of Perveen's recent past in Calcutta that intrudes into her present life. "THE WIDOWS OF MALABAR HILL" is a novel whose prose resonates on every page. It has a lot of twists and turns that will engage the reader's attention throughout. Sujata Massey is a writer who not only knows how to craft and tell a richly compelling novel. She'll leave the reader wanting more. And after almost 14 years of reading Massey's work, I'm already eager to begin reading the second novel in the Perveen Mistry Series.
nhr3bookcrazyNR More than 1 year ago
Very different setting of Bombay, India in the 1920s - and the first female lawyer. I learned a lot while enjoying the story. This is the first in a new series - and I will definitely be on the lookout for more books in this series. It was also the first time I've read anything by this author, so I'll gladly be reading earlier books she's written - while awaiting the next book featuring Perveen Mistry.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm excited about this new series by one of my favorite authors! I first became a fan of Sujata Massey through her Rei Shimura detective novels about a Japanese-American antiques dealer turned detective. Rei Shimura was spunky, independent, and curious about the world, and she's my all-time favorite detective. Now Sujata Massey has branched out into writing about India, and I love these books even more! In 2013 she published The Sleeping Dictionary, a historical novel about a poor Indian girl without a family, leaving her few options for survival. It was one of my favorite books in 2013. Next up is The Widows of Malabar Hill, the first in her Perveen Mistry series. An Oxford-educated, multilingual Parsi woman in Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1921, Perveen is one of the first female lawyers in India, partially inspired by the real life of Cornelia Sorabji. Perveen has modern parents who encourage her education and career, but they do still want her to get married. The novel covers the travails of her personal life as well as her professional work. She helps her dad with a case of a rich Muslim mill owner who has died and left three widows behind. The women are in full purdah (exclusion from men), so Perveen is best suited to speak to them. She soon becomes concerned because their husband's agent plans to give away their inheritance and leave them with nothing. When she begins to investigate the situation, a murder occurs and things escalate. I am excited about reading more of this series. Massey does an exquisite job exposing the reader to many facets of Indian culture and religion--in this case Islam and Parsis, who are descended from Persian Zoroastrians. Check out Massey's excellent website to read the first chapter, peruse recipes from the book, see photos from real places in the book, and read her Q&A. Excellent historical fiction + setting in Asia + a spunky heroine + mystery and adventure = the perfect combination for me! Bring on the next one!